David John Morris - Wyld Love Songs Music Album Reviews

David John Morris - Wyld Love Songs Music Album Reviews
Both playful and spare, the second solo LP from the Red River Dialect songwriter and ordained Buddhist chaplain finds warmth and comfort in scenes of decay.

In his work with Red River Dialect and on his solo records, David John Morris—the British singer-songwriter and ordained Buddhist chaplain—has written about journeys both sacred and profane. In songs that ride the line between meditative folk and intricate post-rock, Morris writes about an ongoing search for community with romantic partners, bandmates, and co-religionists, like the monks who inspired his 2021 solo debut, Monastic Love Songs. It was a collection of open, simple songs, heavy on atmosphere, sung with the confidence of a man rediscovering his calling after spending a year in a Nova Scotian monastery. But when Morris came back to London in its wake, he had little money, few possessions, and nowhere to stay. So he took a room in what is known as a guardianship: a condemned building (in this case, a North London nursing home) rented out for cheap, to dissuade squatters and fill space until the building is torn down. Morris only intended to stay until he could put together the rent for his own apartment, and in January 2020, he began to record demos for a follow-up, with the plan of fleshing them out in a studio.

Like most stories around this time, Morris’ plans were massively disrupted, and during the subsequent lockdowns, he hunkered down in the guardianship and kept writing. The temporary home became a newfound community, and the demos became Morris’ second solo record, Wyld Love Songs. Written with only an acoustic guitar and a drum machine, the resulting album is both spare and playful, each song built around Morris’ high tenor and delicate fingerpicking. For the first time he also embraces unexpected electronic textures: Squelchy synths drive the queasy sway of first single “Pebble,” while “Karaoke” achieves a kind of lo-fi jangle pop, its buzzing arpeggios and insistent drum machine pulsing around the story of a late night karaoke party. The muted electronic backbeat on “TT’s Surf School,” meanwhile, carries the song from soaring folk with a kind of digital intimacy, restrained and beautiful as a vintage Magnetic Fields tune. If prior records sought to evoke live-band interplay, the effect here is more artificial and homey. These are folk songs that find warmth and comfort in decay and decline, like a faded brick wall covered with a handmade quilt.

Wyld is full of little stories from life in and around the guardianship: ping pong games, movie screenings, and the little rituals that arise at the start of a courtship. For Morris, these details take on a gleeful mundanity, expanding into thoughts of impermanence and the interconnection of all life. “Black Kite” creates a strange analogy between his own overwhelming emotions and the plight of the first monkeys to cross the ocean between Africa and South America: “Winds and currents carry me,” he marvels, “to a land beyond belief.”

This approach peaks during the loping “Ballad of Ross Wyld.” The song begins with Morris imagining his dream home, with pink walls, a long veranda, and a garden with a cherry tree. Over the following eight minutes, his thoughts turn to lockdown parties, deaths that haunt the building, and, eventually, a screening of the 1991 Robin Williams movie Hook. As Morris acknowledges, he is working to free himself from “a songwriting mode that feels tired and old”—to move on with his artistry and his life. Toward the end, Morris describes taking a break from writing to have a coffee in the guardianship’s garden, where he looks up and notices, for the first time, a cherry tree, triggering the realization that he is at home and the answers are right before him, even if they, too, “will disappear/like all the things.…I’m looking for.” In a press release, Morris notes that Wyld Guardianship has been torn down since his time there and its community has dispersed. All things may be transient, these songs suggest, but music can stick around.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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David John Morris - Wyld Love Songs Music Album Reviews David John Morris - Wyld Love Songs Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 04, 2022 Rating: 5


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